The Daily Evergreen

Freshman finds a home

By Trevor Williams, Evergreen Soccer reporter

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Friends don’t let friends go to UW and neither does family.

“I don’t even want to say it,” freshman soccer forward Kailiana Johnson said. “I was a Husky fan before my brother went to WSU. Then I actually had a team to root for and a reason to root for them.”

Unfortunately for the Huskies, she had the right idea when she picked WSU and committed to play soccer for the Cougars. Johnson, who places a great deal of importance on her family, is also happy that she had the opportunity to grow into becoming a Cougar.

Johnson followed the footsteps of her older brother.

A graduate of Liberty High School, Johnson is used to winning and winning often. She couldn’t wait to lace up her cleats and head to the Palouse.

“I came here on June 18,” she said. “All the freshmen were required to do summer school this year. So we started workouts with the players that were already here currently, and then in early July everybody else got here.”

Between workouts, tutoring and classes, Johnson was happy to find some time to get acclimated to Pullman.

“At four you were kind of done with all of it, so if you got your homework done during your tutoring session you could just kinda go around town,” she said. “Not many of us had cars, so we had to walk everywhere. It was cool to explore, get to know the campus and all the great places around town.”

In high school, Johnson played soccer whenever she could. When the school team wasn’t in season, there was always a club team somewhere that could utilize her talent as an offensive weapon.

During her junior year, she started talking with Matt Porter and his coaching staff, but the landscape at WSU changed in 2012 when Keidane McAlpine took over as the head coach of soccer.

“Once I got to know Keidane, I knew this was the place that I should stay,” she said. “He’s honestly a really great coach, and so I stuck to my commitment and just loved the team, so I stayed here.”

Johnson, who is credited with two goals and one assist of the season, has made her presence felt early and often for the Cougars.

“I call the one against Idaho my first real goal,” she said. “The one in Seattle was a loose ball, and I’m pretty sure the other team kicked it into their own net. So yes, my first goal was against Idaho, and it was the best feeling. I was super excited.”

After she buried the goal against the Vandals, Johnson was met by a few familiar faces.

“I had two previous teammates who came to Wazzu, and they were both on the field,” she said. “I saw them first and just gave them the biggest hug because we’ve achieved so much so far.

“Getting that goal for me was awesome, and I just wanted to celebrate it with them because it meant the most to me to celebrate with my old teammates and the new ones as well.”

She didn’t mind celebrating with her family in Seattle either at the first game she played for conference, who have watched and supported her early season success.

“The first game we played was in Seattle,” she said. “My brother, my brother’s girlfriend, my mom, and my dad came and watched the whole weekend, which was really great because I’m a really big family person.”

While she was excited to see her family supporting her in Seattle and Pullman, two of her favorite family members were missing.

“I hang out with my dogs a lot,” she said. “I love my dogs, and I take them to the park, but I haven’t been able to do that in a while because they’re in Seattle.”

While she can’t wait to see her furry friends again, Johnson still doesn’t want to rush home.

“The next time I’m able to go home is probably during winter break because we’re going to make it to the NCAA Championships,” she said. “So, we’re not going to have a Thanksgiving this year because we’re going to go all the way.”

You won’t find anyone in Pullman arguing with Johnson’s plan. As for her plans off the field, Johnson can’t wait to have some more traditional fun with the ZZU CRU.

“I haven’t been to any volleyball games,” she said, “which is something I want to do, and our first football game we can go to is Dad’s Weekend, so I’m really excited to go to that one.”

Johnson might admit that things started off a little bit rocky, but now she’s completely a Coug.

“I’m a student here, just rooting on my team,” she said.

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Freshman finds a home